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Sports Bottles and Outdoor Recreation Water Treatment Devices

NOTE: This page is for historical reference only, due to statutory changes -- for information about the current Residential Water Treatment Device Program, click here.

Last Update: January 23, 2008

This is in response to inquiries about the regulation of sports bottles and/or outdoor recreational water treatment devices. 

CDPH does not regulate sports bottles or outdoor recreation water filters, such as backpacking or camping water filters. California law limits CDPH's authority for regulating water treatment devices to those that are intended for residential use and make health claims.

However, there has been consumer interest in recreational water filters. We recommend that consumers consider the following points when thinking about purchasing and using these types of products. Because these devices are not regulated, retailers and consumers must become informed about potential problems in order to protect themselves against inappropriate claims or use conditions. 

Things to look for are:

  • Has the device been tested by an independent lab with appropriate credentials? For which contaminants has the device been tested? How was the device tested?  Did the test method incorporate real field-use conditions?

  • Is there a statement that the device must be used on "microbiologically safe" water? This means it is only to be used on municipally treated tap water, not untreated surface water such as from a stream, lake or spring.

  • Is there a claim that the device removes bacteria? If so, it should also have been tested to remove virus and protozoan cysts (Cryptosporidium and Giardia) by a credentialed lab according to the U.S. EPA Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers. It would be very unlikely that a hand-held sports bottle would be able to reduce bacteria. Water that may have bacteria contamination would also likely have virus and cyst contamination. Cysts are larger than bacteria and may be filtered out. However, virus are much smaller than bacteria and would not be captured by a mechanical filter (carbon block, ceramic, etc.). Chemical disinfection or boiling is the only sure way to kill bacteria and virus.

  • Is there a claim that the device captures particles as small as one micrometer (micron) (absolute) or even one-half of a micron (absolute)? Will this protect you from cysts?  Maybe. From bacteria or virus?  No.  "Nominal" micron ratings should not be relied upon for performance indication.

  • Is the device recommended to treat contaminated water during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, etc.? See the third bullet regarding bacteria, virus, and cyst considerations.

    Last modified on: 6/2/2014 12:01 PM